Cording Structure: The Structure of the Amazon Bracelet Now in Card Weaving


Image of Tablet Woven bands in the Amazon cording struture style
Photo 1

By Karen van Gelder-Mauve

From Handwerken Zonder Grenzen, May 1986, page 31-36, Amsterdam, Holland. Edited by Henriette Beukers

The English translation form Dutch is by Liesel van Cleef and Ruth Beck. This translation conveys the essential meaning of the original but is not a word for word translation. Transcribed from “TWINE: Tablet Weavers International News Exchange” Volume III, Issue I, Spring 1996, by Sarah Pritchard

In Volume One of this year’s magazine, an article was written by Hanne Mook about wristbands woven by the Amazon Indians. The bands are woven on a small frame consisting of a bent branch. With every weft, the warp threads are turned in pairs either to the left or to the right. See Photo 1. Because of this turning, the warp motifs are developed; we call this the warp-twining technique.

Exactly the same result can be achieved by weaving with cards. Obviously for card weaving the warp threads twist making small cords and the weft goes straight through the shed making the cloth. Each card makes one small cord. If we thread two warp threads per card, we have the same starting point as the traditional Amazon band. The description of the formation of these motifs follows.

The motifs are formed by structure, suing only one color. For clear effect in weaving, a light color, and a strong, smooth thread, for example, unbleached fishline is used. Variations are made by threading one thick and one thin thread in each card, or by using a darker thread for weft.

Figure 1

The Essentials of card Weaving: Threading Turning Direction and Forming of Cord and Notation

When you weave with cars you always have to choose between two elements for each Essential.

Threading: Z-direction or S-direction

Turning: A-away from you or T-towards you

Forming the cord: Z-twist or S-twist

S-threading: T-turning makes an S-cord and A-turning makes a Z-cord

Z-threading: T-turning makes a Z-cord and A-turning makes an S-cord.

See Fig. 1


Figure 2

In Fig. 2, we only see the holes for warp threads. (In case you have cards with only corner holes, you can punch holes in the sides.) An X marks the weaving area. For the next shed, turn the cards 1/2 turn. Turning A or T, the upper thread will always become the lower one and the reverse, but they will twist according to Fig. 1. The S and Z turning of cords together will change in turning direction forms the structure.

Materials for Yarn

For the warp, use a sturdy but not too think thread. For the weft, a thinner thread. Choose a light color to emphasize the shadows. A darker thread for the weft will highlight the pattern. A very dark weft gives an openwork effect.

Photo 2

Making the Sample

(See Handwerken Zonder, Jan. 1986, pg. 44)

Thread 20 cards, two threads each; 18 cards S-threaded and one card at each edge Z-threaded.

For a Beautiful selvage, the two edge cards turn in one direction, changing direction when they become over twisted.

Photo 2 is a band woven according to the notation in Fig. 3. The edge threads can be seen on the band but are not on the notation. The drawing if Fig. 4 shows the interruptions in the twist (plain weaving) that forms the raised blocks (depth) in the weaving. The blocks are tow plain weave warps from adjacent cars floating over the same weft.

Figure 3



Notation and Weaving

Fig. 3 shows the number of each pattern card along the bottom; the number of each turn up the left side; and the letter S for threading direction of all pattern cards. Turning direction for each card is shown in the figure, turn A when there is a number in the square, and turn T if there is no number in the square. Colored pencil can also be used to mark the turning direction.

Weaving Directions

Weave a few T-turns to check that pattern cards give S-cords. Practice beating.

Row 1: Start from the left

T – turn 3 cards

A – turn 1 card

This 3/1 turning pattern repeats across the pattern.

Rows 2-8: Same as row 1 but moving one card to the left each row.

Row 9: Change direction of the diagonal lines.

T – turn 1 card

A – turn 3 cards

Row 10-16: Same as row 9 but moving one card to the right each row.

Figure 4

How To Look At The Structure

Fold the waving in half lengthwise so you can see one set of warp threads (two threads on one card). Then study Fig. 4. You can see the turning rhythm that repeats itself after four rows. Row one is the same as row fie. The repeated turning rhythm (3 X T + 1 X A) makes every set of two threads lie next to each other like a staircase.

The two warp threads form each cord twist, then they change and become two straight, untwisted warp threads, and then repeat. Following the notation, the adjacent set of threads start the turning rhythm one row later. The first thread forms one small square with the last thread of the previous set of threads. These squares are deeper in the waving and give us a smooth diagonal corded edge. There are three sets of threads in Fig. 4 where you can see clearly the depth of these squares.

If you compare the band with Fig. 3, it will be clear that in the notation, the width of one cord consists of two twisted threads and next to the twisted threads there are two straight threads, clearly in a rhythm of 1/3. This is very important when you want to make your own design. Therefore, we are going to look at this a little more extensively.

We turned 3 X T and 1 X A. We see that after 3 T-turns the upper thread just doesn’t twist bellow. The bottom thread will appear on the other side coming up. This bottom thread also does not twist because of the A-turn. This means that we have to pay attention; that the breath of one rib becomes one twist smaller than the number of turns that are needed for a cord turned continuously in one direction. See Photo 2.

Figure 5

Another way of Making Notations

Notation, as in Fig. 3 with darkened blocks for A-turns and blank squares for T-turns gives you a clear picture. However, this notation does not indicate the raised diagonal ribs and the depth shown on the band; it only gives the turning direction. The change in level happens in the transition between the colored and blank squares.

To get a good insight into the system we should make some simple samples. We can make nice variations with 3/1 diagonals, but 5/2 diagonals give a clearer effect. We can turn these diagonal ribs in any way so that the ribs will turn in the opposite direction. Look at the 12-card notation in Fig. 5 All these cards have S-threading to show a simple way to make a pattern.

If we want to weave a band with squares or diamonds where the cord twists on the left side and are contrary to cord twists on the right side, the simplest way is to thread half cards Z and half cards S. You will see this contrast in twisting as shown in Fig. 1. Color or number squares for A-turns and leave squares for T-turns blank as in Fig. 6.

In Photo 3 bands (a) and (b) are woven with fisherman’s thread. The (a) band consists of Z ribs closed off with S ribs. The ribs are closing each other off in opposite directions. Notation is shown on a similar pattern of only 12 cards in Fig. 5.

Figure 6

The (b) band has symmetrical motifs. Half of the cards are Z-threaded, half are S-threaded. Look at Fig. 6. The direction of threading in the cards stays the same for the complete weaving. The notation for turning direction reverses in the center of this figure. Filled in blocks become blank blocks and blank blocks become filled in ones.

The (c) band shows a repeated diamond motif in a slanted direction. For this weaving, each card has been threaded with one thick unmercerized cotton thread and one thin mercerized cotton thread. The weft is darker than the warp. At the turning where the thick threads come up, we cannot see the weft; at the turning where the thin threads come up, we see dark colored weft causing the appearance of horizontal stripes. Differences of height because of thickness of the warp material contributes to this light and dark effects. Weavings in rib structure are different on the face and the back.

In Fig. 7 we have the notation for the band in Photo 4. It is a repeated motif that is mirrored or reversed after each 24 turns. The wide diagonal bands form a beautiful contrast with the diamond forms. Many changes in the turning direction of the cards result in a fin pattern. Every card has been threaded with one thick, unmercerized and one thin mercerized thread just like the wideband in Photo 3c. A light brown thread was chosen for the weft.

Photo 3

Changing Direction of Threading The Cards

Figure 7

The notation in Fig. 7 gives you a simpler and cleaner drawing.

All 24 cards are Z-threaded. After 24 rows or turns, all cars are flipped to an S-threading.

Weaving rows 25 through 48 with S-threading results in a weft or horizontal mirror image of the first 24 rows.

After row 48, change the threading direction to Z-threading by flipping the cars and continue weaving.

Edge cards always stay in the same direction.

Start with all cars Z-threaded

Row 25: Flip all cards to S-threading

Row 49: Flip all cards to Z-threading

The notation in Fig. 6, shows warp or vertical mirror imaging with half of the cards threaded Z and half threaded S.

Additional Reference: See Blinks, Ann, “Notes on Plaiting in the Upper Amazon Basin, Peru”, Interweave Fall 1980, Pg 51-52, Karen van Gelder-Mauve has also written five other articles for “Handwerken Noder Grezen”

Copyright © Karen van Gelder-Mauve

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